Petbarn and Greencross Vets are raising awareness of treatments and preventative measures available to help animals fight cancer for Pet Cancer Awareness Month
Cancer is a devasting disease for both humans and animals. To do their part for Cancer Awareness Month, Petbarn and Greencross Vets are raising awareness of what to look out for so treatment can take place before the disease becomes fatal.
A healthy lifestyle and keeping a watchful eye on pets are important first steps in protecting your pet against cancer, believes Dr Veronica Monaghan, Chief Veterinary Officer at Greencross Vets.
"Become familiar with your pet's body and regularly inspect for any irregular growths. Run your fingers through their coat, lightly starting with the head, back, and sides, and continuing down the legs, chest, and belly to check the length of their body for anything abnormal."
"You cannot tell whether a lump is cancerous just by looking at it. Your veterinarian will examine the lump to see if they think it is suspicious. They'll also examine your pet to see if they're healthy and if any other growths are present. A biopsy examination is the best way to diagnose whether a lump is harmful or not. This involves putting a needle into the affected area to collect cells or cutting off a small piece of the lump while your pet is anaesthetised. Once diagnosed, your vet will advise you of the best possible treatment, if treatment is required at all."
Dr Veronica Monaghan says ground-breaking technology has made cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy available for dogs and cats. With most Australians considering their pets as part of the family, it is becoming more common for pets to undergo oncology treatment.
"Oncology treatments can be expensive and do not always guarantee complete removal of cancer growths, so it's important to investigate pet insurance options when they are young and healthy to help financially in times of need. The benefits of insurance can go beyond treating cancer and can include accidental injury, illness, paralysis ticks, vet visits, and other emergency incidents."
Using an ultra-sound, Greencross Vet, Dr. Sabine Wilkins, recently discovered a tumour in Zorro Sheehan's spleen, a Maltese Shih Tzu, who has regularly visited Dr. Wilkins for the past 13 years.
"We were able to provide a diagnosis, treatment plan and begin a chemotherapy regime right away, as well as introduce wholesale lifestyle changes to make sure Zorro was staying as healthy as possible," says Dr. Wilkins. "We cut out all protein from his diet, made sure that his family monitored his behaviour and health closely, and suggested that he go on regular walks to maintain muscle tone and the correct weight."
Thankfully, Zorro's parent, Trisha Sheehan, says that he is dealing with the situation relatively well. "Zorro is about half way through his treatment. So far, his tests have been clear and he is recovering well. We hope his treatment will be finished and he gets the all clear by Christmas," says Trisha.
"The treatment was straightforward. He is an inpatient one day per month for his chemo capsules, he has a blood test and liver enzymes test along with a nausea injection, and he spends the rest of the day at the clinic being pampered by the staff. At home, our family all administer his schedule of a daily antibiotics and tablets to support the remission process."
Some dog breeds are more likely to develop cancer than others, with Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rottweilers, Scottish Terriers, Beagles, and Boston Terriers among the high-risk breeds.
Knowing what is available to pet owners eases the decision when making the right choice for both yourself and your fellow companion. For more information about cancer or to find your local Greencross Vet, please visit http://www.greencrossvet.com.au.
To find out more about the services offered by Petbarn's pet insurance, visit www.petbarn.com.au/services/pet-insurance
Question: What message do you hope to spread during Pet Cancer Awareness Month?
Dr. Veronica Monaghan: Petbarn and Greencross Vets are raising awareness of what to look out for so early detection occurs and treatment commences before the cancer has the potential to cause more damage and potentially spread. Many cases of cancer in pets can be detected early with regular vet check-ups, maintaining and active and healthy lifestyle, and keeping a watchful eye on pets for any changes in their routine, behaviour, lumps or bumps or eating and drinking habits etc.
Question: Can you talk us through the treatments and preventative measures available for pet parents?
Dr. Veronica Monaghan: Pet parents should regularly check their pet's body and feel for growths by gently running their fingers through their coat, starting from the head, back, and sides, and continuing down the legs, chest, and belly. Your veterinarian can examine and test any lump to determine if it is cancerous or not. They'll also examine your pet to see if they're healthy and if any other growths are present. A biopsy is the best way to diagnose whether a lump is harmful or not. There are many treatment options available to pet parents – just the same as in the human world. Some form of chemotherapy is necessary to treat cancer, but cancer treatment varies from case-to-case. Radiotherapy is also available. It's best to consult with your local Greencross Vet first in order for them to provide a diagnosis and a treatment plan that is specific to your pet's condition.
Question: What are your top tips to help us keep our pets healthy?
Dr. Veronica Monaghan: Regular twice yearly check-ups with your vet allows early detection of any potential issues. Being familiar with your pet's body, their behaviours, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a complete and balance diet are also key tips to ensure your pet remains healthy.
Question: Is it possible to protect our pets against cancer?
Dr. Veronica Monaghan: It's not always possible to protect our pets against cancer, however following our top tips will increase the chances of early detection.
Question: What are some of the cancer warning signs in pets?
Dr. Veronica Monaghan: Any growth or lump needs to be investigated with a visit to the vet. Fatigue and panting, loss or change of appetite, vomiting or diarrhoea, weight loss, bloating, any changes in urinating or in their normal routine or behaviour are some of the most common signs we can see in pets with cancer.
Interview by Brooke Hunter